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Morning 9: Rory talks truth | Rose’s big announcement | PXG Gen2 launch

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By Ben Alberstadt (ben.alberstadt@golfwrx.com)

January 2, 2019

Good Wednesday morning, golf fans, and a belated Happy New Year…should be a good one for golf!
1. “More money, more ranking points”
Rory McIlroy, only once a winner on the PGA Tour in the past two years, enters the 2019 season looking to make some changes. While he walked back suggestions he’s cutting back his European Tour schedule, the Ulsterman seemed to…walk them forward ahead of the Tournament of Champions.
Per Golf Digest’s Dave Shedloski, McIlroy said.
  • “You go to Europe and get paid a nice amount of money to start the year…I want to switch it up. I’ve done it for 11 years so I may as well do something a little different.”
  • “It’s so one-sided,…Look, you can talk all you want about these bigger events in Europe, but you can go to America and play for more money and more ranking points. I think as well with the world ranking points, everyone out here, all of their contracts with sponsors, it’s all about world ranking points. If players are getting paid more and earning more world ranking points, why would you play over there?”
  • “I want to play against the best players in the world. I get a buzz from that. I’d much rather go down the stretch against Justin Thomas or Dustin Johnson. I’m not putting anyone down in Europe, but the depths of fields and everything is just that bit better over here. It’s what everyone is striving for. It’s why [Italy’s] Francesco Molinari is here this week. It’s where it’s heading.
  • “The ultimate goal is here,” McIlroy added. “The European Tour is a stepping stone. That’s the truth. The European Tour is a stepping stone. That’s the way it is. It’s tough. I still want to support the European Tour, and I talk about this loyalty thing with Europe. … [But] it’s not as though I’m just starting out and jumping ship. I’ve done my time. I’ve done everything I feel like I need to do to say OK, I’m going to make my own decisions and do what I want.”
2. New from PXG
Kicking off equipment launches for 2019, PXG announced the second generation of its 0811 drivers, woods, and hybrids.
The selling point: Hot Rod Technology in the clubs’ crowns.
  • In true Bob Parsons fashion, the second generation driver offering from Scottsdale-based PXG draws inspiration from something very fast, very custom, and VERY USA: the American hot rod. 2019 will mark the year that PXG truly has a driver offering that lives up to the performance of its irons. That’s right, PXG is a legitimate driver company now with a product that will hold its own.
  • The 0811 X and XF Gen2’s carbon fiber crown has the aggressive hood styling of a 500 horsepower Shelby Mustang. The sleek new multi-level crown not only packs a new-and-improved aerodynamic design but also provides structural support to the face where it’s most needed, according to the company. The resulting reduction in energy loss translates to a distance boost with enhanced control, as well as reduced drag.
  • The Hot Rod Technology-laden crown also acts as an alignment aid and reduces glare, says PXG, and it dampens vibration for what the company describes as “a pleasant and unique feel and sound, reminiscent of a persimmon driver head.”
3. In-round interviews?
It worked well in Europe…
Doug Ferguson writes…“Such interviews are not likely to occur in the final round, and PGA Tour officials are sensitive to the timing of the interviews. A quick spot with Dustin Johnson after his 432-yard drive came within 6 inches of the cup last year at Kapalua might be ideal. Right after a three-putt bogey from 10 feet might not be.”
  • “Marc Leishman has experience doing on-course interviews when he plays in Australia, and he didn’t mind the concept.”
  • ”If they do end up having them, my advice would be to have someone who has played on Tour to do it, to be a little sensitive of the questions and the timing of the interview,” Leishman said. ”But anything where you can be more accessible to the viewers is a good thing. We want to bring more people to the game. It might be a way to give more insight to what we’re thinking at the time.'”
  • “Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, isn’t likely to be among the candidates…”I’ve been approached in Europe because they’ve done it for a couple of years,” McIlroy said. ”And I’ve said, ‘No,’ every single time.”
4. Rose to Honma
While the news broke yesterday, the Morning 9 was enjoying its pork and sauerkraut, so we’re presenting it here today. In a significant coup for the Japanese luxury equipment company, Justin Rose has signed a multi-year deal with Honma.
  • One of the worst-kept secrets in the golf equipment world is no longer secret: world No. 2 Justin Rose is officially a Honma staffer.
  • The Japanese premium equipment company announced the signing in a press release today.
  • “I’m extremely excited to be joining Honma,” said Rose, in the press release. “Coming off one of my best years professionally, I wanted to make it a point to get better. I believe Honma equipment and the legendary Honma craftsmanship can help make me better.”
  • Rose had previously played a full TaylorMade bag for the past 20 years.
  • Former TaylorMade CEO Mark King joined Honma as a strategic advisor late in 2018. Many expected he’d be tasked with helping the brand make a larger splash in the European and American markets, the financial resources of new company owner, Chinese billionaire Liu Jianguo, behind him.
  • Honma has never had a male player ranked inside the top 150 under contract. On the women’s side, however, top players So Yeon Ryu and Shan-Shan Feng play the company’s wares.
5. Not if, but how many(?)
A bold prognostication! Adam Woodward at USA Today sees multiple majors in El Tigre’s future.
  • “But this is golf, a sport that continually proves the old adage that age is just, in fact, a number….Thirty six players have won majors at 40 or older, including: Jack Nicklaus, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Vijay Singh, Gary Player, Darren Clarke, Payne Stewart, Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson.”
  • “Despite his advancing age, Woods will have a great shot at winning his 15th major title this season. Seven of his 80 PGA Tour wins – six of his 14 major titles – came at courses hosting a major this year.”
  • “Barring major injury or a total collapse, Woods may also have a legitimate chance to break Boros’ record. Woods, whose last major title was at the 2008 U.S. Open, finished runner-up at the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont. He’ll be 49 when the event returns to Oakmont in 2025. Woods also could tie the record at the 2024 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, the course where he also finished runner-up in 2005.”
6. Further bold predictions!
These from Golf Channel’s Rex Hoggard…
  • “A player(s) will violate the new rules on green-reading materials. Like nearly all rule violations on the PGA Tour these will be unintentional violations. And considering how the new regulation is written, a breach is inevitable. Consider that the scale and size of green-reading materials are now regulated, but also a player is allowed to use a book that would be in violation of the policy from the tee or fairway, just not the green. An inadvertent miscue is inevitable.”
  • “Tour golf will become a popular (and creative) platform for sports betting. With the introduction of federal gaming guidelines, expect to see a bump in interest in the Tour as gamblers begin to realize how much potential action is available during a round. As one Tour official recently explained, other sports feature a single ball and a single bat at any given moment. In golf there are potentially 78 balls and bats in motion at one time.”
  • “Cameron Champ will shatter last year’s long-drive record. And it will probably happen this week at the Sentry Tournament of Champions. The rookie has already proven himself to be a singular talent who is capable of much more than prodigious drives, but last season’s mark of 433 yards set by Michael Block at the U.S. Open seems well within reach for Champ. “Because of his speed he can hit these shots that really aren’t efficient in flight that carry 300 yards,” said Champ’s swing coach Sean Foley.”
7. Bryson is ready
Dave Shedloski writes of Bryson’s conviction that he’ll leave the flag in on all putts at Kapalua…”His final order of business was on the practice putting green, where he was further testing the viability of leaving the flagstick in for even the shortest putts. Significant changes to the Rules of Golf take effect today, including the rule that previously made it a penalty when a ball played from the green struck the flagstick. No more.”
  • “After the testing we’ve seen, and what we just did out there now, absolutely, I’m going to leave it in. I’m going to do it until I can see that it messes me up,” the erudite youngster averred. “For the most part, we’ve seen it to be a benefit and not a detriment. That’s from anywhere.”
  • “So, just to throw out a number, he would leave it in for a three-footer?…”Heck, potentially a one-footer. From anywhere,” he clarifies. “How many times do you just walk up to your ball and you knock it against the pin and it goes in? You’re at your local club just out there beating it around. Boink, dink, it goes in. Every time. Right?”
8. Na to play Callaway Clubs
Golfweek’s David Dusek…”Kevin Na, who won last season’s A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier, is in Hawaii preparing for the Sentry Tournament of Champions. On New Years Eve, a few hours before the clock struck 12 on the East Coast, he took to Instagram and made a major equipment announcement.”
“Although it is tough to tell from the photo, it appears Na already switched to Callaway’s Apex Pro irons, and there were several photos of him playing last season with a Callaway Epic driver, including at the Tour Championship at East Lake.”
He’ll continue to play Titleist’s ProV1x ball.
9. Rose’s new weapons
Mentioned earlier, Justin Rose will be playing 10 Honma clubs in 2019. He posted this shot of his “Rose Proto” T//World irons to Instagram. A fine instrument!
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Tour News

GolfWRX visits with Ryan Palmer

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The 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial is upon us. I got the chance to sit down with three-time PGA Tour winner and Colonial Country Club member Ryan Palmer ahead of his opening round at the PGA Tour’s stop in Fort Worth, Texas. We discussed why he loves Colonial, how it felt to win on tour again, his friendship with Jon Rahm, the Ryan Palmer Foundation, and why he chooses not to have a club equipment sponsorship.

(GolfWRX spoke with the actual, not the cardboard, Ryan Palmer)

JN: Do you have a home field advantage here at Colonial?

RP: To a point, I guess. Obviously, I have played this golf course in every type of wind. I mean, I know certain holes play shorter than they are. So, a little bit of an advantage because I don’t put much stress into the golf course itself. I just know it. And of course, James, my caddie, knows it. And that is nice. But I do put more pressure on myself because I want to play well here

JN: Why did you decide to join Colonial as a full golfing member?

RP: The history of it. To me, it’s one of the most prestigious clubs…if not the most prestigious club…in Dallas/Fort Worth. History of the golf course, history of the tournament. The more and more I played it…playing in the tournament for 16 years now…the guys that play in the ‘big game’ took me in and they’ve thrown a few parties for James and me after we won a few times. I thought the best way to give back then is to join and become a full member.

JN: How often do you play out here?

RP: If I am home for a week, I play at least twice a week. Just to play in the big game. If I am home and playing golf, I am playing here.

JN: Tell me about the Ryan Palmer Foundation

RP: I started it in ’03 in Amarillo with my dad and my good friend Billy Slaughter. We do a lot of different things but our biggest thing now is our brighter smiles initiative through dentistry. My wife Jennifer is a dentist. And our good friend Chris Swayden with Smile Workshop here in DFW does a lot of our work here and then Kyle Sparkman in Amarillo, Texas does all our dental work out there. The biggest thing was just bringing in kids to boost their self-esteem, give them a better way of life. A lot of their families don’t have the means and the funds to provide dental care. It’s an easy decision to help these kids and give these kids a sense of confidence. I have read stories about kids wearing hoodies to school because of their teeth. That’s pretty sad. I have always been about giving back and having an immediate impact. So what better way than to provide dental care.

JN: How big was that win at the Zurich in New Orleans for you?

RP: It was unbelievable. Nine years since our last win. But to have Jennifer, my wife, there and our son Mason, 12 years old, was there. He was there in ’08 when I won. But he was a year and half so he had no clue. In 2010, they weren’t there. But to have them there and have him finally see it. Mason always asks “Dad, are you going to get a trophy?” So to have him there to finally witness it…that was special.

JN: How did the partnership with Jon Rahm come about?

RP: We met in ’15 at the Phoenix Open. I knew Jordan wasn’t playing this year at Zurich. Jon and I had played some rounds together. He played in my charity event last year. So, I knew Jon a little bit and I know his caddie, Adam Hayes real well. We’ve known him since we have been on tour, James and I. And so, I talked to James about players we should want to play with and Jon was one of the top ones. So, I texted Adam and mentioned the idea to Jon and he loved it. Jon and my games are pretty similar as far as ball striking. So I shot Jon a text and he accepted.

AVONDALE, LA – APRIL 28: Ryan Palmer and Jon Rahm fist bump on the fourth hole during the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on April 28, 2019 in Avondale, Louisiana. (Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)

JN: Are you going to play together again next year?

RP: It would be hard not to play together again next year. I will have to run it by Jordan….no I’m kidding. Jordan was happy for me and excited. He gets it. As long as Jon wants to play, we will go try to defend.

JN: What are your thoughts on not having a full bag club sponsorship?

RP: It is just a matter of playing with what I like. When I first got on tour, you would sign a full deal and it was pretty good. Now you are signing for balls and all 14 clubs. I love the Taylor Made driver but they cut out the driver only deals. They went just full line. Fortunately, with the help of Mike Chisholm and Chisholm Sports, I have some great corporate partners. United Rentals, a great deal with Unisys, RBC. I am able to have these corporate sponsors allow me to play what I want. I made some comments like ‘two hundred grand is not worth an equipment contract on tour because of what you can make that week.’

So, I got ribbed a little bit for making that comment but honestly it is not worth it in today’s game. We play for so much money now each and every week that by the time you get a $200,000 deal, you’re paying taxes and management, at the end of the day its worth a top 20-finish. And then you have to play those clubs all year long, whether you like them or not. So now I can play whatever putter or iron or driver I want. I am only under contract with ball, shoes and gloves. Footjoy and Titleist. I test and I tinker now and then but I always go back to what I have performed with in the past. I stand over a tee shot and I think, I know I hit this driver this way at this tournament at this particular moment. Why would I change?

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Morning 9: U.S. Open qualifiers | USGA x Marvel? | Tiger miniseries?

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Owing to technical difficulties, please enjoy this very low-tech (let’s call it “minimalist”) version of the M9

1. Weir, and other U.S. Open qualifiers

AP Report…”Former Masters champion Mike Weir is headed back to the U.S. Open for the first time in six years as one of 10 players who advanced Monday from the first of 12 sectional qualifiers.”

  • “Brendon Todd continued his resurgence with rounds of 65-66 at Northwood Club and Bent Tree to share medalist honors with Nick Taylor of Canada.”
  • “Weir opened with a 69 at Northwood and secured his spot with a 67 at Bent Tree to avoid extra holes.”

Full piece

More on yesterday’s qualifying in Dallas from the USGA’s David Shefter…

  • “Todd, a former University of Georgia All-America honoree, shot 10-under-par 131 at The Northwood Club and Bent Tree Country Club in Dallas, Texas, on Monday to share medalist honors with Nick Taylor in the first of 12 U.S. Open sectional qualifiers. Ten players advanced from a strong field of 102 players that included several PGA Tour and Web.com Tour competitors.”
  • “The 36-hole sectional qualifier in Japan is scheduled for May 27, while the remaining 10 qualifiers are set for June 3 – eight in the United States, one in England and another in Canada.”
  • “I’m pumped,” said Todd, who owns one PGA Tour and three Web.com Tour victories since turning professional in 2007. “This was on my list for about a year to try and qualify for Pebble. It’s one of my favorite courses in the world. I just can’t wait to get out there and play Pebble in a U.S. Open setup. I think it will set up good for me. I think it will be firm [and] I drive it straight. It’s a course-management golf course. You’ve got to put it in the fairway, keep it under the hole and score well.”

Full piece.

Full results here.

2. Fassi!

The AP’s Doug Ferguson on Maria Fassi (ANWA runner up) capturing the NCAA individual title handily…

  • “Fassi, with her high energy and a powerful swing, delivered a bogey-free round of 68 to win the NCAA individual title by four shots. She is the first woman from Arkansas to win the NCAA title since Stacy Lewis in 2007.”
  • And from Fassi…”After a pretty perfect year that my junior year was … and then heading to nationals and playing pretty bad golf was not fun,” Fassi told Golf Channel. “It was a feeling that I never wanted to feel again. I think I just grew from that. I don’t like feeling that way, I don’t like finishing second. I think those are things that fuel me. They make me wake up early, go work out and stay here to dark practicing. I think those are the things that have helped me this year.”
  • “I think not winning at Augusta was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I can say that now that I have reflected. I know that not winning was probably what needed to happen because I knew I was going to learn a lot more from coming in second versus pulling that one off. Of course I hate losing, but coming here I knew what I was going to be put up against.”

Full piece.

3. Who’s missing?

Begging the question… was it worth it?

Golfweek’s Forecaddie…”The list of players who turned pro midseason this year was particularly long thanks in large part to changes the LPGA made to its qualifying process…The Man Out Front got to wondering – where are they now?”

A few of the departed…

  • “Robyn Choi, Colorado – Missed three cuts so far on the LPGA this season and one on the Ladies European Tour. Ranks 66th on the Symetra Tour money list with $4,381 after making four of five cuts.”
  • “Kristen Gillman, Alabama – Ranks 33rd on the LPGA money list at $156,459, getting a huge boost from a T-6 at the ANA Inspiration. (That’s the week she likely would’ve been playing at the Augusta National Women’s Amateur.) Not only has her card locked up for 2020, the Solheim Cup is not out of the question.”
  • “Lauren Stephenson, Alabama – Started 2019 rookie year with a T-8 at the Vic Open. Ranks 75th on the money list with $55,673 in seven starts.”

Full piece.

4. Back to the Black

Geoff Shackelford’s thoughts on adjustments to Bethpage ahead of the Ryder Cup’s turn at the venue (plenty of time!)

  • “…Not much needs to be done at Bethpage Black for the 2024 Ryder Cup…Take down the rough cut for the bomb-and-gouge loving American team, more concession stands and way more grandstand seating…”
  • “The most complicated of all involves the oft-discussed, widely loathed par-4 18th hole…Tweaks were made this time around, more bunkers added to the already excessively-trapped, straightaway mess and a dreadful finishing hole remained so. The last time a major was played at Bethpage, the USGA tried to improve 18 by moving up tees and that just led to the regrettable sight of 6-iron lay ups and a sense that the hole was no better.”
  • “In the past, consideration was given to creating a hybrid hole utilizing the righthand bunker complex, the first fairway on the Red, and the current 18th green. Many others have advocated that players be asked to take a walk from the par-3 17th to the Red Course’s 18th tee.”

Full piece.

5. Hovland wins Ben Hogan Award

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…”Viktor Hovland received the Ben Hogan Award at Colonial C.C. on Monday night.”

  • “The Oklahoma State junior beat Cowboys teammate Matthew Wolff and California’s Collin Morikawa for the prize, which is given to the nation’s best collegiate golfer. (The award used to be primarily academic based, but its criteria changed in 2002.) Though Wolff has received more media attention, the honor encapsulates all amateur competitions, which made Hovland the easy choice.”
  • “The 21-year-old out of Norway is currently No. 1 in the world amateur rankings, a standing spurred by winning the 2018 U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach. That victory earned an invite to Augusta National this past spring, where Hovland finished as the Masters Low Am. He also captured three collegiate events this season, and finished second at last year’s European Am.”

Full piece.

6. USGA x Marvel

A real thing that is actually happening…

  • Via Golfweek staff…”The USGA announced Tuesday it has partnered with the Marvel Universe for a comic book using some of the Marvel Super Heroes teaching kids the basics of playing golf.”
  • “The books will be available prior to the U.S. Open online. Limited-edition Marvel-themed golf posters will be distributed at the Junior Experience on June 9 at Pebble Beach.”
  • “The story follows Tony Stark (Iron Man) and other Avengers as they teach the next generation of Marvel Super Heroes about golf.”

Full piece.

7. The big win that wasn’t

Golf Digest’s Stephen Hennessey…

  • “It turns out, there was another huge payday on the line at Bethpage Black on Friday of the PGA Championship, just not one that would’ve been on anyone’s radars.”
  • “The Vegas Sports Information Network reported on the very bold “make-the-cut” parlay for the PGA Championship placed by Icelandic gambler Spencer McIlmoyle. For the casual reader, a parlay is a wager with multiple bets included, and it only pays out if every bet wins. McIlmoyle’s bet was a $3,448 10-leg parlay on seven golfers to make the cut and three golfers to miss the cut. The potential payday? $155,000.”
  • “Amazingly, McIlmoyle nailed nine of the 10 golfers’ outcomes, correctly predicting Brooks Koepka, Xander Schauffele, Tommy Fleetwood, Hideki Maytsuyama, Patrick Cantlay, Tony Finau and Webb Simpson all to make the cut, and Jason Dufner and Branden Grace to miss the cut. It all came down to Shane Lowry to miss the cut, and a birdie by Lowry on his second-to-last hole of his second round moved Lowry inside the cut line, costing the gambler the six-figure payday.”

Full piece.

8. JT to return from wrist injury at Memorial

Golf Digest’s Joel Beall…

“It appears Justin Thomas’ injury sabbatical is coming to an end.”

  • “Thomas, who dropped out of the PGA Championship last Monday and the Wells Fargo Championship two weeks before that due to an ailing wrist, has committed to next week’s Memorial. The tournament announced Thomas’ participation on Tuesday morning.”
  • “The 26-year-old, who dealt with a similar issue at the end of last season, hurt his wrist at the Honda Classic after hitting a tree with his club in March. In 11 starts this season, Thomas boasts five top 10s, highlighted by a runner-up at the Genesis Open. His last event was at the 2019 Masters, where he finished T-12.”

Full piece.

9. Tiger miniseries?

Report via Tim Baysinger at The Wrap

  • “A scripted miniseries on Tiger Woods, based on Jeff Benedict’s book about pro golfer is in development at Brent Montgomery’s Wheelhouse Entertainment.”
  • “Benedict reached a deal with Montgomery to set up a joint venture at WHE, with “Tiger Woods” as the first project that Benedict and Wheelhouse will take to market. The book, which Benedict co-authored with “60 Minutes” correspondent Armen Keteyian, was published last year and became a New York Times bestseller.”

Full piece. 

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Tour Photo Galleries

10 interesting photos from Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifier at Northwood Club

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GolfWRX had feet on the ground at Northwood Club in Dallas, Texas for this Monday’s U.S. Open sectional qualifying. We have seven galleries in our forums filled to the brim with photos from Monday’s action, and here are ten interesting selections for you to enjoy.

“Talk to me Goose.” And presumably, “I feel the need for speed.” Top Gun all the way!

Jim Nous’ bag full of Ping clubs features three visible wedges all with different bounce.

Blaine Hale rocking this great looking TaylorMade Spider headcover.

Shorts on the course –  a rarity.

Conner Koberg showing off his colors with this Iowa State headcover.

Julius Boros won the 1952 U.S. Open at Northwood Club. One of his three major triumphs. How about that bag?

Stephen Jaeger played collegiate golf at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, but he’s quite clearly proud of his homeland too.

Noah Goodwin is another player who loves the raw finish on the Callaway Apex MB irons.

Up close with the Titleist 718 T-MB utility iron

.

A glance at Northwood Club itself.

Check out all of Monday’s photos on our forums.

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